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Greens Matter of Public Importance - Gambling Policy
Parliamentary Activity - Thursday, 21 March 2019
Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, when talking on this issue it is appropriate to bring into this Chamber the experiences and voices of people most affected by the issue we are discussing today. I remember the people I met at the showgrounds whose lives have been utterly ruined by gambling. Those people have lost children, have sons and daughters in jail, have had family members kill themselves. They were so addicted to gambling they had lost their homes, their relationships, their children and their own sense of self worth. This is an utterly predatory industry. It is about making money out of other people's misery. Every person in this Chamber should know that.
The Liberal Party and now the Labor Party are prepared to walk away from those people's lives, Tasmanian people's lives; people who live in our suburbs, in our streets, people like every person in this Chamber and every other person we might meet at a community event or in our day-to-day work. They are the people who desperately needed us to make a principled stand, all of us, at the last election.
That the Liberal Party sold their soul and was prepared to sell the souls of every single person who is struggling with addiction from gambling in Tasmania and allowed themselves to be bought is a matter of public record. It is a stain on that party and that stain will live with the Liberals and with Premier Hodgman for decades to come. The Premier carries that stain and he knows it in his heart that this election was bought by Federal Group so that they could continue to gouge money out of Tasmanians.
In the last year in Tasmania, nearly 330 more gambling machines were approved to go into pubs and clubs. According to the estimate of $150 000 a machine, that amounts to an extra $50 million being taken from the poorest people in this state - on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars a year already taken from those people. This is not simply some figure, this is real money. Where does it comes from? It comes from the money they would spend on the food they would put on the table for their children. The Labor Party knows this, which is why they went to the last election and told Tasmanians they would finally take a principled stand against the terrible history of their party for supporting the Federal Group, Farrell hotels moving into our suburbs and gouging Tasmanians as they have for decades.
Rebecca White, the Leader of the Labor Party, has left the Chamber, clearly not wanting to hear what the Greens have to say on this important matter. She promised that Labor had listened and they would act to end this disgusting, predatory behaviour and remove pokies from pubs and clubs, break up that whole arrangement and make sure Federal Group does not continue to do what they are currently doing every single day; putting people into poverty, mental health, ill health, neglect of children and all the other things that come with gambling. Instead, the Leader of the Labor Party in Tasmania has buckled to federal Labor, which buckled to Federal Group. The money that flows to the federal Labor Party and the Tasmanian Labor Party, as it also flows to the Liberals, from the gambling industry. She has buckled, letting down those people to whom she made that promise.
I do not want to waste my time talking about Labor. They have utterly shamed themselves on this issue. People know they were lied to. The problem is these things ricochet. When people lie, when people change their position, when they say they are acting on principle and they backflip, it sets a stain on all of us. Look what is happening at the federal level right now. Look at where we are in politics. The institutions of democracy are beholden to uphold the principles we say we believe in. The Greens do not accept the word gaming, it is gambling. There is no fun about this. There is misery and suffering. It is not about freedom of choice; the Liberals use that as a narrative to pick up and put down at will.
The crazy, conflicted values the Liberals have about this means that they want to lock people up for petty, personal levels of drug use but they are more than happy to weaken our gun laws to give people freedom of choice. Your approach is, 'if you would like this type of gun or it is not convenient for you, the administration is too much, we will just weaken the laws so you can get what you want'.